Tag Archives: America

Know Nothing America

23 Feb

None of us know much of anything.

Matt Ridley at Oxford finds this to be fascinating, a strength of our culture and humanity:

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That TED talk (besides being another excellent example of why the standard of living of our mean is more important than the Gap between rich and poor) is inherently optimistic about the course of human events, the foundational democratic spread of knowledge, and the benefits that arise from it. A million years ago, one man could know how to make a stone axe, and he was the one that made it. Today, no one knows how to build a computer mouse, to use Ridley’s example, and yet they exist. This is the fundamental embodiment of our progress.

But there is a down side to our disconnect, our ignorance not only of various means of production, but our general misunderstanding of the larger world. Humility and curiosity have not spread as quickly as access to information in 2011. In an age of unprecedented databasing of knowledge of all varieties, we are more uninformed (per capita) than ever. Simultaneously, the ubiquity of information broadcast methods has given mighty bullhorns to anyone who wants one (your humble author being a case in point). The result is much shouting, much misinformation, and very little listening. No one knows how to make a mouse, and they don’t know much of what they’re talking about either.

In short, we are really screwing up a good chance to get some things right. More knowledge is available to more people than ever before, but instead of boasting the most informed electorate ever, we’re squandering it.

This is a dysfunction not endemic to Left or Right. Pensioners demand the government remove itself from Medicare. Conspiratorial buffoons have millions, not thousands, of adherents. Most young Americans get their news from one of a number of comedy outlets. We have “serious” debates about whether we should teach children to believe in science or religion, as if one must choose, and further, whether science is a matter of belief. We have the second coming of the Know Nothing Party, wrapped in the flag and a couple cherry-picked Thomas Jefferson quotes, battling faux intellectuals who confuse condescension and comprehension. Locally, our Coalition of Economic Justice ignores basic economic tenents of supply and demand, economic rationality, and individual choice, instead seeking desired results via fiat. Who can blame them – policy decisions are based on feelings, influence, and the volume (speech, not size) of constituencies, and rarely data.

None of this is new, only amplified, enhanced, sped up, and engorged. One need not go back as far stone axes to see a different world. Four hundred years ago, of course, in a long life someone could absorb a majority of the world’s accumulated learning, as mathematics and science and philosophy were all seen as extensions of each other. Only one hundred years ago, during the heroic age of Antarctic exploration, the average sailor with Amundsen or Scott knew how to sail and repair a masted sailboat, navigate and use charts, fix boilers and hunt penguins, mountaineer, run dogs and use skis, and conduct geology and meteorology experiments. When Shackleton was stuck in the ice for a year, the crew amused themselves by playing football and reading the encyclopedia. Cover to cover.

Now our brains are full of other knowledge: how to send a text message, operate kitchen appliances and decipher Microsoft products, drive a car (but not fix it) and saute mixed vegetables (but not grow them). Would you knowingly trade Gerard Manley Hopkins and Richard Feynman for the number of children Brangelina have adopted and a plethora of sarcastic hashtags? If the human brain is no more capable of retaining knowledge (and maybe rewired via iPhone and Google to be dumber), it is filled with less and less fundamental Truth and more and more Gawker. A deep, clear lake of information is available, but we content ourselves with the knee deep bog. 

That there have always been more breeders than readers is not new. That the breeders have the intent and ability to change the course of events, due to the surety of their own mistaken beliefs and delusions of grandeur, may be.

Uncomfortable Successes

11 Aug

As America is increasingly brought low on the world stage, with endless insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a continually sputtering economy, it is worthwhile to observe two recent successes by other countries. The means required to provide such success should give us pause, as we reconsider our own country’s proper role and goals, and honestly assess our capabilities.

The first success is the new Sri Lankan Model for quelling an insurgency. The Sri Lankans have been fighting the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist organization fighting in defense of the ethnically separate Tamil group also inhabiting the island of Sri Lanka. This war had lasted for over 30 years, but recently Sri Lanka prevailed in their conflict. The Tigers were a substantial foe, with several successful assassinations of high ranking officials (Sri Lankan President in 1993 and the Indian Prime Minister in 1991), and despite their entirely secular nature, made extensive use of suicide bombers.

The struggle in Sri Lanka looked endless. So how did the Sri Lankan government win? An entirely military solution. The Economist relates the Model:

Louise Arbour, head of the International Crisis Group (ICG), says the Sri Lanka model consists of three parts: what she dubs “scorched-earth tactics” (full operational freedom for the army, no negotiations with terrorists, no ceasefires to let them regroup); next, ignoring differences between combatants and non-combatants (the new ICG report documents many such examples); lastly, the dismissal of international and media concerns.

Shut out the media, round up everyone, and kill them. The discomfort with the tactics is matched only by the disgust that it worked, and ended 33 years of war. The Economist continues:

A senior official in President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s office, quoted anonymously in a journal, Indian Defence Review, says “we had to ensure that we regulated the media. We didn’t want the international community to force peace negotiations on us.” The author of that article, V.K. Shashikumar, concludes that “in the final analysis the Rajapaksa model is based on a military precept…Terrorism has to be wiped out militarily and cannot be tackled politically.” This is the opposite of the strategy America is pursuing in Afghanistan. It is winning a widespread hearing.

The widespread hearing in this case consists of other countries with internal insurgencies and fewer qualms than Americans: Pakistan, Myanmar, Indonesia, etc. Is this what it takes to actually “win” an insurgency? Are we willing to take the same actions? And if not, what does that say about our fundamental long term goals (in Afghanistan, particularly)?

A second uncomfortable model comes from China. The Economist (yes, I enjoy the global outside perspective) relates another story from a financial crisis seminar held last year. A young Chinese businessman, in nearly flawless English, opened the seminar with this question:

“Now that the free market has failed, what do you think is the proper role for the state in the economy?”

The dramatic early 1990’s success of capitalism over communism is growing smaller in the rear view mirror. Since then, Russia’s flirtation with capitalism has yielded a few gas giant oligarchs, but mixed results in the general economy. Eastern Europe is struggling to integrate with its western EU neighbors, and the current financial crisis has hit North America worst of all, forcing the US government to invest directly in industry (GM, et al).

Contrast that with the booming developing world, which has used a different model. “State Capitalism” takes the best (read: most controlling) aspects of government and business and combines them in a centrally planned economy. Not to be confused with Communism, State Capitalism focuses the effort of the state to succeed in, and take advantage of, the rules of the international capitalist world by having the state act as the player directly.

Some examples: the massive hedge funds owned by Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, and other Gulf states have skewed international finance and investing. When we buy foreign oil, we are not so much sending our dollars to the Middle East as loaning the money back to ourselves, with the profits on the loans and investments kept in Kuwait City. To put it another way, they win twice: once when the state sells us the oil, and again when they loan the profits back to American corporations. It could be worse – those states could loan the money to faster growing economies, like Brazil and China, instead. China’s foreign reserves now top $2.3 trillion, and its sovereign wealth fund includes in its portfolio the world’s largest bank and largest mobile phone operator. In fact, three quarters of all oil reserves, and three of the four largest banks in the world, are state controlled.

Will this trend last? That depends on whether ingenuity, creativity and innovation – the hallmarks of small private companies, not large state bureaucracies – are truly what will drive the 21st Century (as preached by America’s Silicon Valley), as opposed to old fashioned money and power.

What He Said

30 Jan

Obama pictures and McCain pictures
see Sarah Palin pictures

STEEL said in comments:

Declaring something a failure is not the same as wishing for failure. Anyone who wished for failure in Iraq is a sick @ss. I never heard anyone WISH for failure in Iraq. I never heard anyone wish for a recession during Bushes reign. I have however heard for conservatives wishing for Obama’s policies to fail. Meaning they would like the recession to continue.

Right. Limbaughistas, and even our dear friend the Buffalo Bean have expressed their wish that Obama the black Hitler fail.

I never liked Bush, and I never supported him, but I sure as hell never wished him to fail. Yet when people criticized Bush’s policies, they were called unpatriotic for doing their civic duty and becoming politically involved, active, and outspoken. By that metric, wishing failure on the President of the United States is equal to wishing failure on the United States itself. And if that’s not “unpatriotic” by any measure, I don’t know what is.

Now, please note that I am not calling those people unpatriotic – I am pointing out the fallacy of their original premise that criticism of Bush was unpatriotic.

But when you wish failure on Obama, and therefore wish harm to the country, then you’re wishing for a terrorist attack – so you can have “proof” that only Republicans can protect the country. You’re wishing for economic depression- so that you can have “proof” that the bankruptcy of Democratic policies are worse than the bankruptcy of Republican policies. You’re wishing for unemployment and crisis – so you can pat yourself on the back for being right.

I don’t know if the stimulus will work. I don’t even know – neither do you – what form it will ultimately take when Obama signs it. I don’t know whether we’ll suffer another terrorist attack, but they happen every day on the East Side, and it’s high time Americans be vigilant but no longer cower in fear at the rest of the world.

I didn’t wish failure on Bush, no matter how much I disagreed with him because I want health, peace, and prosperity for me and those around me.

If you wish failure on Obama, you’re a failure of a human being and could use a refresher course in civics.

Obama’s al-Arabiya Chat

27 Jan

The genius of that interview is that it permits Obama to speak directly to the average Muslim in the middle east who is just trying to go about his or her life, and reaffirm for them that America is not hostile to their interests, and wants to insure a better life for all Muslim and Jewish kids in that region.

The past hasn’t worked, so let’s get beyond it and try something new and different. It says, stop this extremist shit and everyone can have a better future – not just your side. In so doing, it gives the mass of non-political, non-extremist people in the region a voice. Maybe not a domestic one, but a voice nonetheless.

It was a true and direct message of peace and moderation that transcends the hyperactive politics of the dictators and demagogues throughout that region.

Weirdest. Quote. Ever.

26 Jan

County Legislator Betty Jean Grant reports:

“I had a couple of drug dealers tell me that they aren’t going to use the N word anymore,” she reports. “They told me they are going to call all African-Americans ‘Obamas’ now because that’s what we all are. That was really remarkable to me because it tells me that things are really changing thanks to Barack.”

I don’t even know where to go with that.

Powell on Obama

19 Oct

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Retired General Colin Powell is not the only Republican who is disappointed or appalled by the nasty, narrow, incurious, anti-science, moralistic, jingoistic, xenophobic thing that the Republican Party has become.

My favorite part starts at around 4:35, when Powell actually has to explain to the Republican Party that there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim in America:

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards–Purple Heart, Bronze Star–showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I’m troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

The Republican Party says there’s a pro-American America and an anti-American America, that there is a right and wrong type of American, that there is a right and wrong religion that real Americans can belong to, etc. And while, as Powell indicates, the Republican Party’s tent shrinks to the size of one you buy at EMS, the Democratic nominee and party has done the opposite. The only thing they have left is that Obama is a terrorist and that his tax plan is socialist. (Socialist because it’s progressive and requires the wealthy to pay a larger percentage than those making less – pretty much what’s been done for decades).

I realize that Powell is considered in many circles to be damaged goods due to his tenure with Bush 43 and his Iraq speech at the UN in 2003. However, I believe that Powell remains respected by a great many people and he lends Obama instant credibility and gravitas to a whole new audience.

Town Hall Debate Wrap

8 Oct

I didn’t like the format. It was dumb, the questions were dumb, and there was no opportunity for the candidates to really engage each other or respond in a – well, debating way. Brokaw lost control a few time, but frankly I want to see something more free-wheeling. I didn’t want to see the yawn-fest that I saw last night where most of the questions and topics were redundant in comparison with the first debate in Mississippi.

Obama’s job at this point is to keep doing what he’s been doing. Highlight problems and how he’d fix them, explain that trickle-down, (whereby you give big tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans while the middle class gets very little relief indeed), is a failed theory, maintain a cool, calm, and collected demeanor even in the face of attacks and international crisis, and be specific. Obama’s lead in the electoral polls is overwhelming at this point, mostly because the economy is what is foremost in voters’ minds, and Obama wins the debate on the economy each and every time. Not only that, but last night viewers’ opinion of Obama on leadership, favorability, and being a change agent.

McCain really had to do something dramatic to reverse the momentum as it’s existed now for the past 2 or 3 weeks. He had to show that he gets it on the economy, that he is the better, more Presidential, choice, and to underscore his argument that Obama isn’t ready to lead. He managed to score some too-little-too-late points when he talked about foreign policy, which is his forte. But even then, his dismissive demeanor towards Obama – referring to him as an object rather than a person at one point – went over like a lead balloon and made him seem petty and grumpy.

The town hall format was supposed to inure to McCain’s favor, but I didn’t see it. I saw him repeat “my friends” over and over again, so much so that it became an evident mental crutch for him. The only thing McCain really had to say about the economy were three things:

1. the government should buy up all the underperforming mortgages and handle them from now on;

2. drill, drill, drill and nuclear energy; and

3. earmark reform.

My friends, here are my retorts to those points:

1. this is already covered in the bailout package for which McCain voted last week, and is an option available to the Treasury under that legislation. Also, you could hear conservatives ripping their hair out all across the fruited plain on that suggestion;

2. Drilling doesn’t help anyone for 10 years. Nuclear energy? McCain suggested that all those concerns about radiation and radioactive nuclear waste are nothing – after all, he lived on a nuclear submarine. Finally, Obama agrees that drilling and nuclear are part of the solution, but not the end-all-be-all; and

3. Earmarks only make up $18 billion of an almost $3 trillion budget; that’s 18%. We have lots more to worry about than just earmarks.

The era of big government, handouts to big corporations and the wealthiest 1%, and bellicosity around the world have to come to an end, and most Americans are on board with that. Obama absolutely pwned McCain on those issues last night, and spoke to average folks about average folks’ problems.

The next debate is next Wednesday night at Hofstra. WNYMedia.net will be hosting a watch party againt at Cole’s that night.

Who's Afraid?

15 Aug

Jack Davis and the Republican Party, that’s who’s afraid.

Just one week out after peddling a story accusing Jon Powers of running War Kids Relief into the ground and enriching himself in the process, the Jack Davis campaign goes back to its bitter well of desperation and trots out a story that Jon Powers was arrested in Ohio for cursing out a cop. A flat-out lie.

But Powers spokeswoman Victoria Dillon saw the incident differently. She said Powers was with college friends and fellow veterans in the area, and denied at the time and denies now that he ever used obscene language in addressing the officer. She also offered to produce witnesses to back up Powers.

“At a time when he’s under investigation and running from revelations of election fraud and bribery, the Davis campaign is practicing the lowest form of politics by distorting simple facts,” Dillon said. “Jon was written a ticket for jaywalking, never arrested and never showed any disrespect to law enforcement.”

But a spokeswoman for the Cleveland Heights Municipal Court said Powers changed his plea of not guilty to the original Class 4 misdemeanor charge to “no contest” in connection with a minor misdemeanor on Jan. 11, 2005, and that there was no mention of jaywalking in the final disposition of the case.

Dillon disagrees.

“When you look at the full statute, jaywalking is part of that statute,” she said.

A review of the Ohio criminal code defines a number of offenses that would constitute disorderly conduct — but not jaywalking.

Dillon, however, countered that it would refer to a section outlining “hindering or preventing the movement of persons on a public street.”

Powers was fined $25 and assessed $65 in court costs.

Gosh, that’s a lot of paragraphs for a $25 ticket. Powers wasn’t arrested. And he didn’t plead, and wasn’t found, guilty. And he paid a ticket. If Davis wants to paint Powers as being a one-time, one-man jaywalking spree, then that’s fine. But it doesn’t change the fact that Davis has nothing whatsoever to run on as a candidate. Oh, and when the Powers campaign offered to put McCarthy in touch with other people who witnessed the event? McCarthy wasn’t interested. He was all about covering the politics of it – not the facts.

Davis has nothing else to do, really. The two-time loser ran in ’04 and ’06 in a fit of ongoing pique against the Republican Party, which couldn’t be bothered with his concerns about free trade and blew him off. Because his message against free trade was so palatable to people whose jobs are threatened with exportation, he had overwhelming support in both races from organized labor and the Democratic Party faithful.

Not so this time, Davis finds himself completely bereft of endorsements. No one is supporting him except the people he can pay off. Whether buying their votes with cheap gas, or by paying off the wives of Independence Party leadership in Monroe and Erie Counties in order to get a leg up, Jack Davis will do and say anything to get elected. The gas giveaway was tantamount to him standing on a street corner handing out lit with $50 bills attached, yet he bleats on about being a “patriot” who isn’t trying to buy an election. Monroe’s IP chair was fired for accepting what the party called Davis’ bribes. Erie’s chair is such damaged goods that even his friend Joe Illuzzi has called for his replacement.

So, Davis is left sitting at his corporate/campaign HQ, getting his spokesguy to release absolute and utter falsities. Memo to Jack: it won’t get you any more traction to tear down Powers, and no one – no one is going to change their minds and back you again. As Genesee County Democratic Chair Charlie Mallow put it,

As many other letter writers have shown, Jack Davis doesn’t know what issues matter to Democrats because….he doesn’t care to know them. During the last two elections, Jack didn’t go out and meet anyone because he wouldn’t campaign. Jack is above all that. Jack thinks that he can just buy an election with fancy two sided color mailers. I already received five of them in the mail. Rip off musical ads and buying people off with cheap gas are more of his most recent techniques. Those things don’t constitute reasons to vote for someone. Ideology and platform do.

And Davis isn’t the only one.

The Republicans also hit Powers yesterday on the War Kids Vet non-scandal.

Erie County Republican Chairman James P. Domagalski [said] “We need leaders in Congress who believe in transparency and accountability.”

Well, that’s interesting, isn’t it? For the Republican Party to interject itself into a Democratic Primary? Fascinating indeed to trot out various and sundry Chairmen of the Republican Party to comment on – well, the frontrunner in the Democratic primary.

Domagalski wasn’t such a loud proponent of transparency and accountability when it came time for Tom Reynolds to answer questions about Mark Foley. Instead, the Republican version of “transparency” and “accountability” was to issue limp denials surrounded by innocent children.

And all of this short-term-attention-span-disorder points to only one thing – the Republicans are petrified of running Chris Lee against Jon Powers.

Career politician Tom Reynolds has been suckling on the public teat since 1974, and Lee is his hand-picked suckle-cessor. Are you better off now than you were in 1989? 2000? 2004? 2006?

Alice Kryzan? She supported Reynolds monetarily and defended Hooker Chemical, the polluter/murderer of Love Canal. Jack Davis? He’s a horrible campaigner and is, frankly, easy as hell to beat (see Tom Reynolds ca. 2006). Chris “Tabula Rasa” Lee would have no problem bloodying either of these two.

The Republican Party is scared of Powers because they know their brand is tainted, they know they are bereft of ideas, and they know that they are partly to blame for the decline of the 26th District. Who has represented this district in the past few decades? Tom Reynolds? Bill Paxon? Jack Kemp? And in that time, the population loss for New York has been so stark as a result of a failure of vision and leadership that Kemp went from representing the 39th district to the 36th district, and now we only have 29. We lost 30 and 31 in the 2000 census. We lost 32 – 35 in the 1990 census.

Chris Lee has nothing to run on. Apart from his stellar maxing out of local Republican donors, I haven’t seen one story – one fresh idea come out of that campaign. I haven’t seen one positive proposal put forth that would reverse years’ worth of benign-but-pork-laden-neglect from the likes of Tom Reynolds. And what could Lee possibly know of the problems facing the average voter in NY-26? I don’t know a lot of multimillionaires for whom the price of a gallon of gas dents the family budget to the point that “staycation” has entered the vernacular. I don’t know a lot of multimillionaire scions who can really relate to the notion that New York is in a recession, the federal government can’t even get cross-border stuff with Canada right, and whose only real solution is to drill s’more.

It’s no wonder that the Republicans are petrified of Powers. That’s why, when the Form 990 for War Kids Relief –

– War Kids Relief which, incidentally, Jon Powers started up after his tour of duty in the Iraq war, and saw that Iraqi kids were ripe for the picking by jihadists to be slaughtered through attacks on American troops, decided that if the US wasn’t going to pay any attention to trying to give them hope for a future, he would try to do something. And he did. And War Kids is an ongoing concern from which he did not pay himself $66,000, contrary to the lies put forth by the 26th’s own Montgomery Burns and his stenographer, Bob McCarthy, and continues to do outreach to Iraqi kids to underscore the fact that America isn’t their enemy, but wants to help them. The effort was not only a success, but it was a noble success, at that.

– that’s why, when the Form 990 for War Kids Relief is posted, I hope that Jon Powers marches down to Republican Headquarters at the Statler Building and delivers it in-hand. And I hope that he then challenges the Republican chairs to come close to matching what Powers has done to fight for his country, to honor his home, and to try to do something – anything – to ensure that Iraq’s next generation remembers America and Americans as being their friends, their friends who helped them and cared for them, and gave them an example of what life could be, without war and oppression.

Erie County Democratic Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan issued his own response:

“I wonder how many people at that press conference put their lives on the line in Iraq. How can they criticize someone who braved the horrors of that war and then willingly returned to help the many children from families that were killed or displaced by the war?

“The fact that Republicans are intervening in a Democratic primary indicates their desire to avoid facing Jon Powers in November,” he added. “Haven’t we had enough of this swift boat sleaze?”

Why, someone might almost suspect that Davis colluded with the Republicans to hit Powers from two fronts.

UPDATE: Buffalo Bean has an image of the citation itself. Note the right margin: where it says “Defendant’s signature (If minor misdemeanor)”, at the scene, Powers refused to sign the ticket because he adamantly stated he never cursed the cop out. When he was faced with the choice of being arrested or signing the ticket, he signed it with the words “I never said that.” I never said that.

For the uninitiated and dumb, a ticket is an allegation – it is the officer’s claim that Powers said these things in a crowd. Powers denied it then, denies it now. This is why we have trials. This is why Powers pleaded no contest. Since Buffalo Bean has the ticket, I trust he also has the documents showing its disposition.

UPDATE: Here are two guys in suits calling on Jon Powers to release the Form 990 that was due today and has been filed, and will answer all of their questions. Fucking cheap stunt from two guys who probably never gave two thoughts for kids in Iraq before yesterday when the cameras were rolling.

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UPDATE: Robert Harding says Davis had three attacks against Powers – youth, disorderly conduct, and War Kids money. He’s out of ammo. All that stands between Jack Davis and obscurity now is a couple weeks’ time.

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Higgins versus Dan the Tan Man

24 Jul

Did you know someone was running against Brian Higgins? It’s true. There is an actual Independence Party candidate running in that race to replace South Buffalo’s Boy Wonder.

That IP member is Dan Humiston. He’s also running, BTW, as the endorsed Republican.

In several recent bigger races, the Republican party in the county of Erie has pretty much resigned itself to running bored millionaires who can do a lot of self-financing of their campaigns. (Hi, Jack Davis! Too bad Cheney snubbed you a few years ago!). Chris Lee, Republican running in the 26th, is the unemployed scion of a formerly locally-owned manufacturing concern which was sold out for megabucks to a New Jersey multinational.

Humiston is, like Davis but unlike Lee, a self-made millionaire. He runs the Tanning Bed franchise throughout Western New York, peddling melanoma to local gum-clacking teens and those who still think they are. He’s the current president of the Indoor Tanning Association. (A “healthy tan” is not unlike the ads for Camel – more doctors smoke ’em!)

Humiston has raised a decent amount of money, according to his latest filings. His largest contribution comes courtesy of a sweaty gentleman who combats allegations that he defends pedophiles by surrounding himself with children. Tom Reynolds’ TOMPAC gave the legal max to Humiston – $5,000.

Humiston did receive one more $5,000 contribution from another PAC, however. The “Indoor Tanning Association PAC“, which is run by the operation of which he is President. There are also loads of big contributions from melanoma huts all across the country. You can track how excited the tanning proponents are about Humiston’s run for congress, and they have a great conversation about how Dan Humiston can advance the melanomian cause in Congress.

Dear tanning industry friends,

Today is a big day in my race for Congress, March 31 is the last day I can collect money for my first FEC filing. The FEC reports have to be done quarterly so that the country can gauge my potential as a candidate.

I officially became a candidate in March; so far all my fundraising efforts have been directed towards our industry. My feeling is that it sends a strong message to the country that the tanning industry believes that their president will make a good congressman.

While many people have generously supported and helped spread the word I still have a ways to go to hit my goal. If you haven’t had time to go to my website http://www.humistonforcongress.com and make a contribution, can you please do it now?

Thanks
-DAN

And the Republicans criticize people for taking money from a strip club owner? Stripping doesn’t give people cancer.

The Indoor Tanning PAC’s mission:

In an effort to create a unified voice for the industry, the ITA decided to form a PAC to educate and make financial contributions to federal candidates who support the public policies that are important to the ITA’s members.

and

The ITA actively lobbies against legislation that would place unfair restrictions on salon businesses.

For instance, the ITA is lobbying to strike legislation in Ohio that would ban indoor tanning for teens under 18, and a similar bill in Massachusetts for teens under 16. I’m pretty sure that another cancer-causer – cigarettes – are prohibited from being sold to teens under 18 even when they have a note from home, so I don’t see the issue. (Evidently, his campaign obtained the Tanning Bed’s email list. Convenient. There’s also $2,500 to one Joseph Illuzzi, who apparently resides at 123 ABC Street in Alabama 20001.)

The one unifying theme among the Bored Republican Millionaire candidates is that they will operate government like a business. This is silliness, because businesses have a different mission altogether from that of government. The smart ones explain that they wish to maximize efficiencies and eliminate waste. They will keep a close eye on public finances and make sure that deficits are guarded against, found, and remedied as soon as possible, right?

Well, another supporter of Humiston’s is Nancy Naples-O’Neill, erstwhile State DMV Commissioner, which is a position to which she was appointed after holding the Giambra Administration’s water for so many years, (delaying until the last possible moment her decision to alert the people to what became the Erie County Budget Crisis of 2004 – 2005). She gave Humiston $1,000. One hopes he won’t take public finance advice from her. BTW – she lists her occupation now as “Amtrak Commissioner“. Christ almighty, there’s no trough from which she won’t gorge.

Humiston and Lee are supposed to be cut from the same cloth as Chris Collins – a businessman whom the Republicans run with great success last year. And they won’t come asking to bum money off the party, either.

The thing is, Brian Higgins works his ass off every single day to change people’s minds about Buffalo and WNY. When Humiston charges that Higgins is part of the status quo, that is sheer idiocy. Taking money from Tom Reynolds, cancer purveyors, and Nancy Naples is more of the same. Not Higgins, whose accomplishments are many and whose record does not pigeonhole him as some sort of ultra leftist liberal, but instead a pragmatic and forceful proponent for Western New York and the regular folks who make up his district.

Obama, Maliki, McCain

21 Jul

John McCain in 2004:

QUESTION: Let me give you a hypothetical, senator. What would or should we do if, in the post-June 30th period, a so-called sovereign Iraqi government asks us to leave, even if we are unhappy about the security situation there? I understand it’s a hypothetical, but it’s at least possible.

McCAIN: Well, if that scenario evolves, then I think it’s obvious that we would have to leave because— if it was an elected government of Iraq— and we’ve been asked to leave other places in the world. If it were an extremist government, then I think we would have other challenges, but I don’t see how we could stay when our whole emphasis and policy has been based on turning the Iraqi government over to the Iraqi people.

The elected head of state of sovereign Iraq said this to Der Spiegel this past weekend:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki supports US presidential candidate Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw US troops from Iraq within 16 months. When asked in and interview with SPIEGEL when he thinks US troops should leave Iraq, Maliki responded “as soon as possible, as far as we are concerned.” He then continued: “US presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.”

and

“So far the Americans have had trouble agreeing to a concrete timetable for withdrawal, because they feel it would appear tantamount to an admission of defeat,” Maliki told SPIEGEL. “But that isn’t the case at all. If we come to an agreement, it is not evidence of a defeat, but of a victory, of a severe blow we have inflicted on al-Qaida and the militias.”

The Bush Administration first blundered by promoting the Spiegel article to its press distribution list rather than an internal distribution list, and then sometime on Sunday, Maliki issued a “clarification” of his remarks, which was puzzlingly released through the US Central Command.

Oh, and did I mention that Maliki’s “clarification” came after the White House called him to tell him to “clarify”?

From the New York Times:

Mr. Maliki’s interview prompted immediate concern from the Bush administration, which called to seek clarification from Mr. Maliki’s office, American officials said.

Scott M. Stanzel, a White House spokesman with President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., said that embassy officials explained to the Iraqis how the interview in Der Spiegel was being interpreted, given that it came just a day after the two governments announced an agreement over American troops.

“The Iraqis were not aware and wanted to correct it,” he said.

So, the Iraqis trotted out a guy to say that Spiegel screwed up the translation.

Diplomats from the United States Embassy in Baghdad spoke to Mr. Maliki’s advisers on Saturday, said an American official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss what he called diplomatic communications. After that, the government’s spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, issued a statement casting doubt on the magazine’s rendering of the interview.

The statement, which was distributed to media organizations by the American military early on Sunday, said Mr. Maliki’s words had been “misunderstood and mistranslated,” but it failed to cite specifics.

“Unfortunately, Der Spiegel was not accurate,” Mr. Dabbagh said Sunday by telephone. “I have the recording of the voice of Mr. Maliki. We even listened to the translation.”

But the interpreter worked for Maliki – not Spiegel, and the Times got a hold of the tape, and offers this direct translation from its original Arabic:

“Obama’s remarks that — if he takes office — in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq.”

He continued: “Who wants to exit in a quicker way has a better assessment of the situation in Iraq.”

And all of this comes during a campaign where McCain and Bush have steadfastly refused to consider a timetable for American troops to leave Iraq, lest it be perceived as failure. The Republicans have been trying to apply the “cut & run” language they used against Kerry against Obama, but 2004 is different from 2008. So different, in fact, that the White House itself has had to acknowledge that some sort of pullout is going to happen, but they prefer to call it a “time horizon” or somesuch.

By talking pullout, Bush and Maliki have effectively removed one of the big rationales behind McCain’s candidacy.

(EDITS: Links added, corrections made)